Despite Facebook referring to the following of certain pages on their site as “Liking,” there are times it is useful to “Like” what one does not like.  This proved to be true yesterday, when the New Jersey Senate Democrats included on their Facebook page their intent, spearheaded by Senator Nia H. Gill (D – Essex), to move forward with legislation she is sponsoring to implement the health care exchanges as dictated by the Affordable Health Care Act, a.k.a. ObamaCare, a.k.a. in NJ, PalloneCare.

Senator Gill was primary sponsor of the “new bill,” which is actually the same as the previous bill Governor Christie rightly vetoed earlier this year.  The veto drew praise from the New Jersey Tenth Amendment Center, as well as various conservative and libertarian groups throughout the state.

Gill’s bill, S2135, has been submitted to the Senate Commerce Committee, while the companion bill, A3186, is in the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee.  One has to wonder if having the Senate bill in the Commerce Committee rather than the Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee is an attempt to sneak it past the voters.  If so, we’re smarter than that…right?

Senator Gill’s use of the Supreme Court decision declaring ObamaCare constitutional is at best somewhat disingenuous, given her Yea vote January 11, 2010 on S119 legalizing the medicinal use of marijuana in New Jersey five years after the Gonzales vs. Raich decision declaring marijuana illegal…even in states with medical marijuana laws!  But perhaps Senator Gill has not yet had the opportunity to draft legislation reversing that radical nullification bill that six Republicans and all but three Democrats supported and Jon Corzine signed in the waning days of his administration.

If bowing to the Supreme Court is your priority, Senator, then show some consistency.  But if you have a true concern about reforming health care in our state, then scrap S2135 and sponsor a companion bill to A861, along with state specific legislation that empowers us at the state and local level.  But don’t subject our health care decisions to the whim of some glorified bureaucrat in DC drawing a six figure salary from our taxes just because five out of nine people in black robes tell us we have to.

New Jerseyans, as far as stopping this bill again, we have a lot more work to do than last time.  The make up of the legislature has not changed, and every Yea vote from then is practically guaranteed now.  Meanwhile, the same cannot be said of Nay votes, at least some of whom may have wanted to wait for the Supreme Court’s decision on the matter before committing to it.  This could deliver the votes necessary to override Governor Christie’s veto, which itself is not even guaranteed now that the courts have spoken.

We will have to overcome not only the mainstream media in New Jersey, but even Tea Party groups and conservative blogs that, while strong on other issues, have painted themselves into a corner through their condemnation of nullification.  After all, any governor who has vetoed the legislation necessary to implement the ACA in his or her state has de facto nullified it for the time being.  Who, while defending federal supremacy, especially when the Supreme Court upholds it, can defend vetoing the federally mandated health care exchanges now?

Tenthers will have to reach out and find new allies across the political spectrum to prevent S2135 from passing, even if they only join us on this single issue.  It is not outside the realm of possibility to gather that support from seemingly incompatible sources.

Pro-life groups are likely to oppose the HHS mandate of abortion coverage.  Republicans who until now have believed it is possible to reform DC could be swayed out of desperation to support nullification “just this once” (we’ll work on them later for other issues).  We should even reach out to Democrats.  New Jersey currently has a state public option.  By progressive standards, Trenton is years ahead of DC.  Putting funds into a federally mandated exchange at a time when our fiscal house is still nowhere near in order makes no sense.  Even for those opposed to the public option, wouldn’t reforming what we have make more sense than creating a brand new one at the federal government’s say so?

While such a coalition is bound to clash in Trenton, that is where the health care debate should take place.  Let’s resolve that debate there and in our local communities, without any “help” from DC.

Benjamin W. Mankowski, Sr.

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